It’s summer time and we all want to have fun out in the sun. But how many of us are sun safe?
Did you know most parts of Australia have high levels of UV radiation all year round and this is regardless of the temperature!
Why is UV radiation a bad thing?
Well, too much UV radiation can cause: sunburn, skin ageing and skin cancers.
We all know that Skin Cancer is one of the most common cancers in Australia and the main cause of skin cancer is overexposure to UV radiation produced by the sun, but it can also come from other sources, such as sun beds, which can increase the risk of skin cancers by 60%. Australia has the highest incidence of melanoma in the world!
What kind of skin cancer could I develop with excessive sun exposure?
Basically there are two main types of skin cancers:
- the more common but less serious “non-melanoma”
- “melanoma” – the main cause of skin cancer related deaths in Australia.
So who is at risk?
Anyone can develop the disease but you’re more likely to get it if you have:
- Lots of moles or freckles
- Fair skin type that burns easily
- Red or fair hair and Light-coloured eyes
- A history of having sun burn
- A personal or family history of skin cancer
- A job where you work outdoors
- A weak immune system due to medication or a chronic illness
- When should I be concerned ?
When should I be concerned?
It is important to see your doctor if you or a friend or relative have noticed any unusual or Persistent changes to your skin. Getting checked early is smart and could be life saving.
What am I looking out for?
If you have developed a new mole which has :
- Two sides don’t look the same
- Irregular borders or edges
- Blurred or jagged appearance
- An uneven colour, with more than one shade
- A large size, more than 5mm
New and old moles – which to watch?
It is normal for new moles to appear and change during childhood and teenage years, and during pregnancy. However, all adults who develop a new mole should see their doctor to get it examined, particularly if it is noticeably different from your other moles or is raised, firm and growing. On the other hand if you have an existing mole that has started to change or if you have a spot, mole or growth that bleeds, crusts, scabs or hurts you are best getting it checked out.
Back to being Sun Wise!
So, we know that skin cancers are caused by too much sun but you shouldn’t avoid the Sun completely, as it is an important source of vitamin D.
To reduce the risk of skin cancer, Be Wise.. Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide!
- Covering up – Slip in to Protective clothing
- Slop up using a sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 30 at least 20 minutes before goingoutside, as it takes this long to sink into the skin. Reapply every two hours.
- Slap on a Broad brimmed hat protecting your face, neck and ears.
- Seek shade, when the sun is at its strongest, normally between 11am and 3pm
- Slide some sun glasses on with a decent Eye protection factor of 10.
- Taking care when out in sunnier climates. You can burn quickly, even when if it isn’t too hot.
Examining your skin every three to six months will help you notice any new or changing spots that need checked out.
Some useful links below: